Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Soy Un Chicagoista





I spent a gorgeous day in my favorite city this past Saturday.  And, being summer, things were in full swing.  Pride Fest, Puerto Rican Fest, Cubs games and concerts were on the menu.  I had an incredibly booked day, with a first meeting with my colleagues at Third Coast Review, who I just started writing for, an amazing opportunity to interview Jonathan Coulton and Paul and Storm at the Cards Against Humanity office on the north side, the Garfield Park Conservatory's corpse flower, which had decided to bloom after a brief fakeout during the week, and the JoCo and crew concert at the Vic that night. It was writing, photography and nerdish glee for me, but in doing it all, I also found a moment of my own pride. Or a few.

The first time it hit me, it was when I had successfully navigated Broadway in Lakeview during prime brunching hours DURING Pride Fest. After a few circles, I found a teeny tiny spot in front of Intelligentsia, where I a)really, really needed to sit down and polish my interview questions and get prepared and b) really, really wanted my most favorite coffee drink in the entire world, which is their Black Cat iced latte. Seriously, it makes every other iced coffee seem like a watery mess. There's a reason why Intelligentsia is such a sought after coffee brand, and they extrapolate that out to the people and techniques at their cafes.

So, without a second thought, I parallel parked perfectly in a tight spot on a busy street.

Maybe you don't drive. Maybe you were born with the parallel parking gene. Maybe you never got sideswiped on another busy city street because a bus didn't see you and forced you to move a lane or risk a crushing death. I don't know.

What I do know, is this was a combination of things I couldn't do and was afraid to do, and I didn't even blink. Once the interview questions were calmly, cleanly typed out and I was on latte #1, I had a chance to reflect, and in that moment, I was proud to overcome a fear.

Next on my agenda was the interview.  And what didn't start off well turned out to be fantastic. When I got to the CAH offices, all the doors were locked. It was really hot out, and the doorbell wasn't bringing anyone to let us in.  I was early, but my earliness was slowly becoming "on time/lateness."

Luckily, the awesome PR person I'd been working with let me know things were fine, and someone would be right down. And oh, by the way, Jonathan Coulton is stuck outside too and should be coming along soon.

Now...if you know me the way I know me, and the way some of my closest friends know me, you know one thing that racks me right up with fear are interviews. From day one with Chicagoist, whenever I had an interview, I was excited to get the opportunity and terrified in equal measures. Some know me as the awkward turtle, and even if that's going too far, what I *am* is certainly an introvert, which makes breaking the ice....well....dreadful. But it turns out that, when you're stuck outside on a muggy Chicago day waiting for a door to open...you have a mutual, shared pain. It also turns out that Jonathan Coulton is extremely nice, and of a kindred nerdy spirit, and by the time we got in, the interview seemed, as good interviews should, in my opinion, more like two people having a casual conversation.  I listened back over to it just tonight, and both his segment and the simultaneous one surprised me. I've had some pretty awkward interview moments, where I got caught off guard by an answer (or no answer) or lost my place and panicked...and...this wasn't that.  And because it wasn't, it's going to turn into something neat that I've never been a part of before, which I'm incredibly excited about.

After that, I got a chance to check out Persephone, the newest corpse flower on the scene. When a staff member asked me about myself and what I did...I actually mentioned that I was a writer and I'd written the piece about Persephone for Chicagoist. Turns out I was talking to the director of the conservatory, who I'd recently interviewed on the phone, and got a chance to have a one on one talk with her and network a little bit more for future stories. Had I been a wuss like normal and not said much...I'd have missed out on a great face to face and some great stories, including the dilemma they were facing about getting persephone OFF display.

And last? I met up with one of my more recent friends, and a former colleague at Chicagoist who I both admire and relate to a hell of a lot.  She's been where I've been and beyond, and we talked relationships, writing, food and family, and it was fantastic.

Lately, I've been a lot about what I'm not, and a lot about what I need to be, and a lot about what I've been in the past that I'm not measuring up to now.  It's some of the rocks I mentioned in the last entry. I just haven't felt like me is much, you know? Or that I've made progress and become something different and better than I was.

But tonight, in reliving my Saturday, I see a more organized version of my younger self.  One who is still awkward and introverted sometimes, but can also speak intelligently with heart.  I saw a person who didn't let herself be defined by past injuries and didn't give a second thought to the things that used to scare her, and I saw someone who was actively pursuing something that she didn't (and sometimes still doesn't) think she's capable of or worthy of.  I saw someone who knew herself, spaced out her day well, and treated herself without breaking the bank....and I felt good.

An old blog of mine was called non sum qualis eram- I am not what I once was. I picked that for motivation to become more than I was then.  Today, I can confidently say that is the case.  I'm nowhere near done, and it's likely that will be a motto I take with me my whole life...but I'm glad that today, I can see more than what I fail to do.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Back Back Train- Fight The Power


There's been some rocks lately. I haven't talked much about it, because I'm sick of sharing about my rocks. I'm sick of being on the rocks. I wonder if I'm just rocks and that's all I am, you know? Throw me in the water and I'll sink like a stone, can't swim anymore.

This is sounding crazy grim, no? So Mom, if you're reading, or aunts and uncles, let's not get crazy. Surely, before, you've had a point in your life where you feel like everything's upside down, or even just one thing you really care about is upside down.  Surely you've felt like a big lumpy box of rocks. It's human. It sucks, and it's human. Ever notice how most of the things that people consider the most human are sucky? Just a thought.

There's something else there though, and maybe it takes being a sad sack of rocks for a while to get to it.  There's fight. There's struggle.  There's the urgent need to get things back online.

I need to get things back online.

I need to fight.

If I feel, or am made to feel, like a worthless, shitty person, I need to take a long look at it.
Yes, there's the part where you analayze and go "Hey, did I do something crappy to someone?" "Have I maybe hurt someone or stepped on toes or crossed lines? How can I fix this?"
It's hard to look at yourself and realize you can be selfish, rude, oblivious or downright crappy.
It's hard to realize you've wasted a lot of time.

But it's stupid to stay down. It's stupid not to fight. It's also incredibly stupid not to realize the things you are that are good, too. Don't throw yourself out with the bathwater, you know?

It's stupid not to try again. Try harder. It's stupid to stop if you fail again.
It's stupid to look at something or someone and say I can't.

So...no stupid.
No worthless.
Now's the time to use the drive I've always had to prove myself for good, and not to my own detriment.

I don't care what you see when you look at me. I don't care if you think I'll sink or swim.
Watch me fly.


Thursday, May 5, 2016

New Wave- Day One with the HTC Vive


You guys...it's the future outside. Hold onto your hats, and I'll wait here while you look outside. Dancing, sorting, emoting robots...little tiny pocket computers you take everywhere...VR.

That last part just came to be in my realm today, when the HTC Vive arrived.  I pause here to say I am only writing this for my own amusement and to hopefully help others who are curious know what it's like, I've not gone all product placement on all of you.

I'm not going to go specs, suffice it to say your computer has to be pretty darn decent to be able to run it. If you're blessed enough to have that and are able to get a Vive...it is pretty amazing. We set it up within a half an hour, and as soon as we played around with the first little programs, it was impressive. The Lab software you get with it is a LOT of fun, and everything has that sort of Valve/Aperture/Portal flair to it.

The controllers fit your hands really well, are rendered perfectly whenever you're wearing the headset as if you were actually looking at a non virtual copy, and for whatever reason, make everything you do that much more immersive, from shooting a bow and arrow, to picking up and manipulating things, to becoming....

LORD OF THE SONGS!

One of my favorite moments in the few hours I've been around the Vive came in playing AudioShield. It's a simple concept, and kind of a simple program. It's not trying to make you feel like you're in the real Atlantic, or the real anything. What it IS is you and your music in space, as an incredible, surrounding game a la Guitar Hero. For some reason, the pure fun of punching/shielding out the beat to any song you have on your computer just got me all misty-eyed. It's the meeting of playing a game and actually doing things, kinda like DDR, but...even more amazing.  Instead of you hitting arrows on a pad lying on the floor in front of you, it's you and this open space and all sorts of crazy, pretty, glowy orbs waiting to be blasted into colorful confetti as you move along to the music.

I *love* the ability to have a big play space to move around in.
I love the controllers.
I love the Valve/Steam/Portal flair.
I ABSOLUTELY love AudioShield and can't wait to try TiltBrush, which is an immersive art experience.

I think Vive knows exaaaaactly how to produce a sense of awe with the technology it delivers. I think it knows that fun is fun is fun, and I'm really, really excited for the whole thing to become a little bit more accessible to everyone and more refined.

Is it a little weird wearing what feels like a slightly lighter brick on your face and having a cord running down your back? Yeah, a little. But with no motion sickness to report (coming from someone who gets motion sick from regular PC games and 3d movies sometimes) and all the amazing fun I'm having...I fail to care. Vive is really, really neat, and a whole new kind of fun, and I'm looking forward to more adventures.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Rough Around The Edges


Hello world.

I'm still here, even though it's May. I'm trying to stick to my word better, here and everywhere else.
Today, I'm trying to even go above and beyond a little bit by enduring sleep deprivation to wait for a package that has to be signed for even though my "shift" waiting is up, because m'dear love has not gotten enough sleep lately. So I shall share the deprivation with him by taking his other shift so he can sleep. Hopefully, I shall receive the box triumphantly, present it to him, and immediately fall into blissful slumber.

This should also explain any anomalies whilst typing. Blah.

I'm feeling a bit...down again today. I seem to have double-booked myself this weekend, and while I have a feeling that it has self-resolved, it makes me a little sad that it has. If you haven't seen me posting elsewhere lately, well, dammit. Cuz I haven't either. I'm going to continue to keep my nose to the grindstone, my head up, dedicate myself to doing better and better work each time I get a chance to, and hope that someone takes me up on the offer. Trying hard not to focus on the stories I wanted to tell that aren't being told. Feeling, today, a bit like I let myself and possibly my love down with the way things happened with the double-booking though. There's good reasons for not pushing to make it happen, but I still worry that I'm gonna disappoint.

Lots to look forward to and lots to do this week. Got the  garden under way, even a few things planted, like strawberries and a beautiful dahlia that I'm hoping to keep alive just as my own little baby project. Put some beauty out there.

I feel less good than I thought I even did when I started this. Perhaps the tired is messing with my emotions more than I thought. Even so, I need to make more of myself than what I've made in the past year or so, for me first, but for the people I love too.

I think I'll chew on that and try to breathe through the sads.
Rambling about sadness is not gonna get me anywhere.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Closeout



Well, it's time to roll on out from prompts and start on my own two feet, all of you that took this journey with me.

I faltered, I missed, and indeed, I'm doing the last two days of April on the first day of May, but one thing I can say is that I finished. Instead of starting things only on Mondays or firsts of the month, I did the work, even if I was behind, and I finished.

Or I will, as soon as I roll out our last two and sew it up with a pretty little bow.

So! My 21st birthday-
I was still a dedicated pizza girl, so much of the crew I was close with was well aware I was turning 21, and excited to see me party it up.  So they and many of my other good friends met up with me at TGI Friday's to start, and thus began my immediate education on liquor. First drink I ever had was an amaretto stone sour.  And when I liked it, several more followed. Then the jolly rancher shot, then a lovely trick drink made to embarass the drinker, and probably a few more. The idea was that perhaps after Friday's, we'd hit another bar, but I don't think that we did. Instead, I opened presents, did the drinkin' that comes without the heavy bill, and managed to get away from my 21st with no wicked hangover or regurgitation. Yayyyy!

And now: Something I'm excited for...
Hm. It's felt rough around here lately. One of my close relatives has been sick, some work things are not great, and I've got a lot to think about as far as how life continues from here, and it needs to be thought out now...

There is something I'm excited about, but it's a bit of a secret for now, and I can't spoil that for this post. Some people already know.

I tend to want to have goals in my life, things to look forward to that drive me through the week or month or year, and I think I need to find some. Being so moorless is a bit of an issue. I don't know exactly what I'm excited for today, but I do know I need to find out, so I have something to carry me through.

Now: to the future! To promptless May!
And in May? I think I'll challenge myself to post at least 3 times a week. And take new photos to use for those posts. And find things to be excited about, day by day.


Friday, April 29, 2016

Y'know, whatever.



Behind the times again, and we're winding down. On the up side, I am liking blogging here more. On the up side again, I'm looking forward to writing without parameters.

So for starters, we're at 28. 28 is about phrases you use all the time. I have some, I spose. FYI is one, and I guess I use that so much to indicate that it's a useless fact I'm about to give someone. FYI, there's extra salad.  I guess I use it to say things aren't important.

At one point, I'd stop myself mid sentence a lot to say "Like...yeah." This prompted the boyfriend to pull a Miley on me, and start singing "Going to the store like yeah" when I'd say that.

I think my most common one now is "or whatever."

I know exactly why I do this, and it's part of the diplomat personality trait that sometimes gets out of hand. I tend to soften things or qualify opinions to make them seem less harsh. It's part of the people pleaser trait that gets out of hand. It's weird, because I'm pretty damn introverted, but I really really still want people, even strangers, to like me. Leads to great awkwardness. Or whatever is something that I tag on to the end of sentences to indicate flexibility. Like, "We can get Hardee's...or whatever." Like, here's my thoughts, but whatever else is good too.  I need to temper this, because while on the surface it's harmless, sometimes it's not good.

So that's a wrap on that.  29 later tonight, if I'm good.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Stripped


I think I'm gonna mix my prompts today and make them one and the same, because it feels right.

Today's about things you'd say to exes and what you're wearing.

I'm not dressed particularly nicely, but the pants I'm wearing are soft and comfortable and fit me nicely. They've got pockets, too, which is nice for a time like the present, when I need my phone charged and on me 24/7 in case of emergency. (Unfortunately, in the interim period between this post and last, things got a little more intense for me and mine, and I'm hoping that there's some sun that's gonna come from behind the clouds that gathered.)

What else I'm wearing is a simple black v-neck shirt. Hair's up in a claw clip, black flip-flops and well, comfy underthings.

I think that's how I feel about my relationship too (when things are going well, of course)...that it's soft and cozy and comfortable, and that it's not about airs or pretenses.  We know each other without suits or makeup or particularly good breath. We know each other cranky and smelly and sick and healthy too. And that's...in the same headspace that soft, drapey black pants with a pocket for my phone lay.

Not walking around in a pencil skirt where I haven't got the range of motion to kick my heels up, not nipping skin off the backs of my heels til they bleed to get a few extra inches...grounded. Naked toes, naked nails, messy hair.

This isn't to say I'm not obsessed with new things I can do with my Christmas Gwen Stefani eyeshadow palette or coloring my hair bright red or looking at pretty dresses to wear for no reason, and not to say that sometimes, if I'm coming home to my sweetie, I'm not putting on lipstick I wasn't wearing on the job or touching up eyeliner just to prettify for him. It's just to say that the basics, the comfort, the softness...is all good, and what I'm glad to have. It's not to say I don't think pencil skirts are THE.DAMN.SEXIEST sometimes. It's just to say I know NOW that the underlying comfort is where it's really at.

In this little metaphor, my SO now is the comfy pants, and my exes are the ones making my heels bleed and restricting my motion. You take these things off because they're hurting you, or in the end, they're just really not working for you.  That said, you cared about them once, so what would you say?

If honesty were any part of one of my ex's lives, I'd sit him down and tell him, one on one, in enough raw detail to drive the point home, how hurtful his actions were, and the trail of hurt he's left behind him. I'd tell him that the person that I saw was likely still in there, but he's paid too much attention to being some sort of alpha male playboy with an interest in whisky and his friends and family would rather him be a nerdy, outdoorsy sort who knows what truth is and realizes the hurt in his life is coming to him via his own hand. I'd like to tell him all the times he could have made it right and ask why he didn't just. Before, that was a burning question. Now? It's just...a sort of curiosity. Oblivious, malevolent, or something else, you know?

To another, I'd just express concern and support. A push to be something, create a fantastic life for himself, and not waste away in a better place than before, because then you really didn't gain any ground.

To any: That I'm not and should never have been a secret. That I can see now that I let some things happen to me that I shouldn't have, but that they damn well knew it too. That I'm worth the risk of a real relationship, and that I'm a damn good catch.

Sometimes, I need to tell myself that last one too.